Seasonal Transition – Fall 2022

Whether you call is the start of quarter 4, the autumnal equinox, or back to school, we are smack in the middle of a seasonal transition. I want to share what that looks like for me as I hope it will inspire you to think differently about planning.

Goodbye Summer

Seasonal transitions are not just about planning for what is coming up. It is putting an end cap on what just happened. For me this means practical things like cleaning out the pool bag I used all summer and Sustainable Productivity things like reviewing the quarter 3 habit tracker.

Take note of the sandwich bags of varying sizes. One for my iPad, one for my Kindle, one for a paperback book, and one for phone. I am ready to read ANYTHING at the pool – especially with those easy reader sunglasses in the middle. Not pictured: Bixby’s goggles that I stole to have as backup. I put them back before he noticed.

I would like to say I put some kind of ceremony around it or do something special, but I don’t. That would just be one more hurdle to getting it done. But if that brings you joy, please consider doing it. I know some people who love a trip to the coffee shop alone to do their habit check in. Or others who buy a new pool bag each year. They fine significant closure to throwing this year’s pool bag in the trash after thanking it for its service.

Find what works for you do the wrap up portion of the seasonal transition before looking ahead.

Hello Fall

Looking ahead in seasonal transitions seems more intuitive for most people. You may set quarterly goals or draft a list of fun things to do in the coming months. The biggest impact for me going from summer to fall is the change in weather. It was 48 degrees when I walked the dog this morning and I am still freezing. So part of our seasonal transition is getting the fire place ready to use and digging out the space heater for my office. I try to put this off as long as I can, but I think I have hit my limit.

One new thing I am doing for the 2022 seasonal transition is to make a fall fun list. This feels very out of character for me as I rarely whimsical. I am not the family fun planner. But now that I am 48 perhaps I don’t need to be a curmudgeon anymore!

I have no idea what to put on this list, but by putting it out into the world, I am inviting accountability to this new add to my seasonal transition checklist.

Your Turn

Help a sister out and let me know what is on your fall fun list!

By |2022-09-27T09:08:17-04:00September 29th, 2022|Mental Well-being|2 Comments

Seeking, Releasing Relationships

Weekly essays this month sure seem to surround the topic of seeking and releasing relationships. A more savvy writer would say it is because September is my wedding anniversary month and this is a very strategic plan of mine. Alas I am not that savvy writer. Here is a photo of us celebrating this month though. 

Bixby and I celebrating fourteen years of marriage!!

Talking on the podcast about friends, mentors, influencers, ways to foster relationships, and being a spiritual gangster has put me in a reflective mood about who I am connecting with these days. 

It is easy to let time slip by and all of a sudden it is months or years before you reach out to someone. Then it has been so long it feels insurmountably embarrassing. Which just compounds the issue because more time passes. 

Unless that is just me?

Today I want to look at both moving away from and towards different relationships. Healthy relationships are a component of the Mental Well-being pillar of Sustainable Productivity. Good relationships take effort and sometimes part of that effort is paring down what is not working – releasing those connections that are no longer lifting you up. 

Releasing Relationships

We all raised to not touch the hot stove, to not run into traffic. To avoid physical pain. This is the basis of thousands of years of evolution. Survival of the fittest. 

Did you know that relationships can affect our mental and physical health in similar ways.

Kross, et al published a study that shows physical pain and rejection show up similarly in the brain. When participants were asked to consider a recent rejection, the brain lit up just like brains have in 500 other studies of physical pain. This was not a small result either – this happened up to 88% of the time. 

Rejection hurts – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. And sometimes we are the ones that realize we need to do the rejecting. 

Some relationships are for a season of our lives. I had teammates who I spent the majority of my waking hours with, but we eventually drifted away. Some divorces happen because the people grow apart. That does not mean that these relationships were wrong. Sometimes they just run their course. 

You may know what I mean. That lonely feeling you get in your gut when in a room full of people. Maybe you try to explain thoughts and feelings in different ways yet nothing really lands. Instead of trying to fit that square peg into a round hole, what if you considered spending less time with that relationship?

There’s no lonely quite as brutal as the lonely you feel when you’re surrounded by people. Meg Tietz

I would also like to float the idea that you might need to start with releasing relationships that are not working for you in order to make space for the ones you are seeking. This may leave you in the scary in between where it feels like you are alone. 

Trust me, you are never alone. 

Seeking Relationships

You are never alone because you always have your own true self. That inner voice that helps you decide what is meaningful, true, and Sustainably Productive. 

Some call this your conscience or God or the universe or even Jiminy Cricket. 

This core self is where you can always go to establish what is true for you. This is the space where healthy relationships grow from. If a relationship you are seeking connects with this space in your gut, it will feel more authentic and grounded.

Even when the public facing you feels surly and dark, you cannot escape from the light of the true you. I love how Natasha Smith puts it:

Nothing can separate you from the love of God. Not even you.

Sustainable You Questions

1. How do you feel in a room full of people? What are physical signs and symptoms that you might need to think of releasing relationships?

2. What is the first reaction you feel to the idea of sitting still for 5 minutes? Not necessarily meditation, but just being still. If you are anxious about this, why?

3. What is preventing you from seeking relationships that might help you feel seen and restored instead of burned out and empty?

By |2022-09-15T19:09:05-04:00September 27th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Eating Sustainably

On the surface eating sustainably could be viewed as for the environment only, but what about your personal environment – your health, home and happiness? 

On the podcast we talked about eating sustainably in a traditional sense – supporting local agencies and those with humane practices. I encourage you to listen to that episode here. I have had additional thoughts since we recorded about what sustainable eating means for each dimension of Sustainable Productivity (SusPro). That is what I want to explore more with you today. 

Click on the photo to go to the podcast episode page.

Health and Fitness: Nutrition

Nutrition is a component of the Health and Fitness SusPro dimension. The quality of nutrition has a direct impact on your health. It is probably the most intuitive connection to eating sustainably. 

Maybe you choose to eat meat – or not. Maybe you are gluten intolerant – or not. Regardless of what healthy eating means to you, the common theme is to make changes that are sustainable. As you make small adjustments to your nutrition, ask yourself the SusPro questions:

1. Am I getting the outcome I want?

2. Can I continue to do this lifelong if I want to?

If you eliminate a food group because you are trying to be healthy, but don’t have enough energy to be physically active are you really getting the outcome you want?

If you restrict calories thinking it is healthy, but you are hungry and irritated all the time is this something you can continue to do lifelong?

Eating sustainably is as much about habits as the food itself.

Mental Well-being: Relationships

Relationships are a component of the Mental Well-being SusPro dimension. Since food tends to be a natural gathering point, eating sustainably can have a direct impact here. What if you incorporate the idea of eating sustainably into your relationships?

Case Study 1.

Eating sustainably means making adjustments for the season of life you are in. Maybe fall means an especially busy couple months for your family. In order to eat healthy in a way that sustains your sanity, this fall means brown bags in the van or picnics at the ball field with your people. Instead of eating in shifts around games and practices, what if you gathered for 15 minutes in a park in between everyone’s destination to eat a cooler dinner. Young kids especially might be delighted by an al fresco dinner party.

Case study 2.

It is not too early to think about eating sustainably over the holidays. My husband’s family has a few football coaches in it. In order to give them (and their families) some breathing room these holidays, we are moving our gathering to January or February. What is important is gathering in a low stress time to eat together. One of the things I cherish most about these folks is that they are flexible and know what is important to them. I know so many families who implode if Christmas is not celebrated on December 25. Not my in laws. Sustainable relationships are gathering at a time when we can be focused on each other, not on the clock and having to rush off to the next thing.

Case study 3.

What if eating sustainably encompassed experiences with those you are in relationship with? My teenage niece had a slumber part this summer where they made pasta from scratch for their dinner. The idea of pulling these teens away from phones to interact with each other in the kitchen is what eating sustainably means to me. Then bonus when my niece went to visit my dad and she discovered Papa had a Kitchen Aid mixer too! I cried when my sister sent pictures of Sydney cooking for her grandpa. I am sure it is a core memory for him too.

Source: Disney Tumblr

Environmental Surroundings: Physical Clutter

Physical clutter is a component of the Environmental Surroundings SusPro dimension and certainly impacts eating sustainably. Although this has changed over the years, for us it has to do with how we meal plan – we are working on doing a better job at eating what we have. Setting up our physical space to support this is important. Here are a few ways we reduce our physical clutter to support eating sustainably.

1. Clear expired pantry food a couple times each year. I am always stunned to find out spices and hot sauce expire, but they do. Before I met Bixby I thought I was a bad cook. Turns out my spices expired in the 1990s. 

2. Pare down appliances. My husband does the cooking and is the gatekeeper to what tools come into his kitchen. He has a rule to not clutter the kitchen with one trick ponies. Garlic press can only press garlic. He has wicked knife skills so it takes less time for him to dice garlic than it does for me to clean the garlic press so out it went. 

3. Make things easier to find. We moved seldom used tools to a separate space. There is no need to move the cake decorating tools out of the way every time we need the pasta pot or immersion blender. The once or twice a year we need to decorate a cake, we can pull that box down from the higher shelf. 

Sustainable You Questions

1. Can you identify what eating sustainably means to you today, in this season of life?

2. How can you get more of that or reduce the barrier to getting more?

If you like what you read, you might like what you hear. Subscribe to the Conscious Contact podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. 

By |2022-09-13T13:42:51-04:00September 20th, 2022|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

Sustainably Productive Friendships & Relationships

Healthy Relationships are part of a Sustainably Productive life. Isolation can interrupt sleep, increase blood pressure and cortisol (the stress hormone), and suppress the immune system. Cultivating these relationships can sometimes be tricky as there are several categories these relationships could fall into. The three I want to dive into more are Influencers, Fake Friends, and Mentors. The initial discussion on these three relationships was on Episode 16 of the Conscious Contact podcast. I had a lot of thoughts swirling around since then. I want to go into more detail here with you today. 

Think of these categories (Influencers, Fake Friends, and Mentors) as existing in concentric circles – like a bulls eye. The outer most ring is what the world pelts at us – social media, our local community, our workplace, TV, etc. It is appropriate to have differing levels of intimacy – different relationships on each ring of the bulls eye. But the inside of that bulls eye is closest to the core of you, the true version of yourself that even you might not have fully become aware of yet. 

Who gets access to that inner circle these days? Is that working for you? Is this something you can sustain lifelong if you choose to? The idea is not to make all of your relationships the deepest, it is to know what that relationship is for you and if it needs to slide back a ring. Be true to yourself and your need for connection. 

Let’s take a closer look at each ring.

Influencers

This is the outermost category of your bulls eye. These are the most impersonal relationships. Don’t get me wrong – I love the entertainment industry. I think we all need entertainment in our lives. But have a clear understanding of what those relationships are and be conscious of what you are allowing to seep in.

Online Influencers are the people who are given money or material items to get your eyeballs on a product in hopes you will shell out the cash. We don’t actually have the truth about whether they know, like or trust the product – just that they got something to tell you about it. You don’t know their true intention.

In the real world, influencers exist as well. I remember the first several visits I made to the kids’ elementary school after I first became step-mother. When I got dressed, walked in, and interacted with everyone I had a certain type of woman in mind. I was influenced by “good mothers” that I had seen dropping off their cherubs and volunteering. 

The truth is that I had zero connection with those mothers. Honestly – I don’t even know if they WERE mothers. They could have been teachers, staff, nannies or aunts. I was telling myself a story about what I saw, not necessarily about what I experienced

Fake Friends

When you take a step closer to your core, you encounter the category I call Fake Friends. Stay with me on this and focus on the Friend part, rather than the Fake part. I define a Fake Friend as someone I consider my friend, but they don’t actually know 1) I exist and/or 2) that they are my friend.

The examples I used on the podcast are Jessica Turner (you can read more about her here), Laura Tremaine (linked here), and Kendra Adachi (her podcast is linked here). I dedicate time each week to bond with my online Fake Friends as they release content for me to read and listen to.

Click on the image above to go to the Fake Friends episode to hear the original discussion about Influencers, Fake Friends, and Mentors.

But let me give you a few examples a little closer to my own life. The librarian I talk to on the regular when I pick up my books is doing her job. I assure you that she does not think about me for one more second once I print my book receipt and get out of her hair. But you cannot recommend such good books to me and not be my friend. I have that connection with  a few farmers at the market and Amanda at the yarn store. Here is the difference: My online Fake Friends and my real life Fake Friends have shared enough with me to know we have some kind of connection. 

Yarn store Amanda knows basics about my dad’s health stuff because she helped me pick out a knitting project and yarn to keep me going while I was in Indiana for an extended time. Then she shared some of her stuff to let me know she related to my situation. 

I was honest with a couple farmers about not liking vegetables, knowing zilch about prepping them, but showed interest in learning both. They shared about people in their family who did not eat what they grew either and suggested ways to get around that. 

Online is no different – Jessica, Laura and Kendra (we are on first name basis, naturally) have all shared some hard stuff and associated lessons in their writing and on podcasts. And Jessica even on the Today Show! I am sure there is more to each of their stories. I am sure there is stuff they do not share publicly. This is where the Fake part comes in. I am not deranged, I know these are not real friendships. But they are a part of the concentric circles of relationships. 

There is one more section to cover today – the people I call Mentors. 

Mentors

This is the inner most circle to your bulls eye. Your most trusted group of relationships – the ones that perhaps have seen you cry and / or vice versa. Sometimes my brain gets a little sideways and knowing I can run my reactions and responses by someone else who knows the body count is helpful. I call this my personal Board of Directors. 

These are relationships that I have in real life. Trusted women (plus Bixby) that I can bounce ideas off of. Bonus – I know the response coming back is filled with love, respect, and truth in a way that I can hear it. Couple things about this.

1) Yes, all women except my husband. For a long time I did not trust, truly know or like many women. This has shifted as I got older, and I cherish the women in my life now. 

2) My Board of Directors tells me the truth in a way I can hear it. This means they know me well enough to know what that means. Not the kiss and kick method of delivering feedback at work. Not a dump and run when and how it works for the message deliverer. Together we work through some hard shit. Emphasis on together. 

In summary, I want to suggest that you be aware of the relationships in your life and if they are helping you create a Sustainably Productive life. Stay connected to yourself in all of your relationships so that you can stay true to yourself. 

Sustainable Productivity Questions

1 – As with all things Sustainably Productive, I encourage you to start where you are. Think of dividing life into a pie chart. At the very minimum, a Sustainably Productive life would have equal division of Influencers, Fake Friends, and Mentors. Literally get a scrap piece of paper, draw a circle. Think about who you spent time with in the last 7 days. Which categories do these people fall into?

2 – How do you feel about this division? If the division is not working for you, what relationships fall into the category you want to impact first? Just identify what is not working. Small steps lead to bigger change.

If you like what you read, you might like what you hear. Subscribe to the Conscious Contact podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. 

By |2022-09-07T20:02:27-04:00September 13th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Inconvenience as Sustainable Productivity

People often think that as a productivity coach I offer hacks, tips, and tricks to get more done. 

Nope. I truly cannot stand the term, “hack.” 

I would rather help you find out how to do more of what matters and delegate the rest to the floor.  The message that I want you to hear is about SUSTAINABLE productivity, not just productivity. Sometimes sustainability is not convenient. Sometimes sustainability is not pleasing to other people. But this is your life. To paraphrase poet Mary Oliver, “What will you do with your wild and precious life?”

Disconnection

I would like to suggest you consider being / doing / consuming less convenience. Recently on the Conscious Contact Podcast, Genay and I talk about fast food – the convenience of it and how it encourages this “hurry up” type of life. Please hear this – convenience encouraging a “hurry up” life extends beyond fast food that does not satiate.

Here are a few non-food examples:

1 – One night stands don’t satiate the need for connection with others. 

2 – Over exercising doesn’t satiate the need for connection with our bodies. 

This lack of feeling satiated or satisfied leads to disconnection. That disconnection leads to feelings of needing to numb out or escape your life. You deserve to have more than this with your one wild, precious life. 

“Joy is a state of appreciation that allows us to fully participate in life.” Pema Chodron

Recovery

One way to inch toward creating more connection is to make small adjustments over time. This can be done in each dimension of Sustainable Productivity – health, happiness, and habitat. 

Health – Nutrition

In the podcast we go into depth about ways to move away from convenience food. But maybe smaller steps are needed to make the sustainable forward progress. Today maybe you eat fast food biscuits twice a week. What if one week you made the tube biscuits that pop on one day and had fast food biscuits one day. Try that for a few weeks, then you might have poppable biscuits at home both days. 

If that feels Sustainably Productive for you, experiment with biscuit recipes and move away from the tube biscuits. Connect with the process of cooking. Bank the money you save for a special reward – clothes, a movie, books are my favorite, of course. Include your people in the process to make the connection even more special.

Bixby and my niece making homemade ravioli over the summer.
The time Bixby taught my niece how to use a kitchen torch. It went deliciously well!

Happiness – Career

If you are feeling disconnected from your career, instead of quitting, consider what is not working for you. One of the most life changing things I learned about burnout came from Jim Loehr in the book The Power of Full Engagement, “If you never fully disconnect, you can never really connect.”

Do you sneak looks at your work email after dinner on your phone while watching TV with your kids? Do you work on that one report “real quick” on Sunday morning instead of going to church with your spouse because you are golfing later? How often do you lose sleep because you are replaying work conversations in your head?

Not productive. Not sustainable. 

What are small ways you can work on disconnecting in order to make connection that much more special? Here are a few things that worked for me when I was at a particularly burned out point in my career:

I took lunch away from my desk with no coworkers. Even if it was just 15 minutes to eat my brown bag lunch on a bench or in my car, the break was impactful.

Put limits on weekend work. I had to ween myself off weekend work. Only Sundays for awhile, then only Sunday afternoon, then only what I could bring home, then only an hour. Until I stopped weekend work completely. Cold turkey is hard – use a step down approach when needed.

Double the time you think it will take to do ANYTHING. If you block 30 minutes to work on that performance review, expand it to an hour. We have a tendency to overestimate ourselves and underestimate the task. 

Habitat – Physical clutter

If your home is feeling cluttered, instead of doing a trash bag shovel out disconnecting with ALL the stuff, consider what specifically is not working. 

Do you have a cabinet that has stuff fall out every time you open it? Is your sock drawer so stuffed you cannot open it? If you need to start smaller, take 10 minutes to wander around your home with a piece of paper and pen. Open cabinets and drawers, look at the memorabilia on shelves and photos on walls. Does your environment give you the vibe you are going for? If not, what is 1 area that you know you cannot accept lifelong – start there. 

Sustainable You Questions

1 – Do you seek out convenience so that you can jam more activities into less time? Why do you think that is?

2 – How is that working for you? How does that feel in your body at the moment you are jamming things into less time? 

If you like what you read, you might like what you hear. Subscribe to the Conscious Contact podcast on Apple podcast, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. 

By |2022-09-05T14:30:42-04:00September 6th, 2022|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

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